Rye Harbor is part of the Rye Harbor State Park that is located on the northern end of New Hampshire’s short coast. Besides having an alternate name befitting of the most weathered outdoorsmen (Ragged Neck), Rye Harbor is an excellent place to take a whale watching cruise, and is in fact the main hub of whale watching in the state of New Hampshire. Two whale watching companies operate out of Rye Harbor, Atlantic Whale Watch and Granite State Whale Watch, and below we explain these companies offerings, as well as provide an overview of whale watching cruises in New Hampshire.
As we explained in our last article, whale watching in New Hampshire is almost exactly like whale watching in Massachusetts. This may not be a particularly helpful observation to many, but we make it because Massachusetts has a fairly famous whale watching industry and the state is regarded as one of the best places in the world to whale watch. Thus, we make the connection between New Hampshire and Massachusetts as a way to emphasize the quality of whale watching in New Hampshire, which is world-class. And of course the parallels between the two states’ whale watching opportunities are not surprising. New Hampshire is right above Massachusetts, and the combined coastlines of the two states run along precisely the same section of the Atlantic Ocean, which has many whales and other forms of marine life. You are most likely to see humpback, finback, and minke whales on a cruise, and you can also see dolphins, porpoises, and the occasional shark, among many other animals. The biodiversity is strong in the area, and whale watching cruises take advantage of it.
The two whale watching companies that operate out of Rye Harbor, Atlantic Whale Watch and Granite State Whale Watch, sail from May to mid-October. This is in line with the whale watching season of the northern East Coast, but the two other whale watching companies that operate out of New Hampshire, Al Gauron Whale Watching in Hampton Beach and Eastman’s Docks in Seabrook Beach, only offer sailings in July and August. (This is why Rye Harbor is the main hub for whale watching in the state.) Atlantic Whale Watch and Granite State Whale Watch have extremely similar offerings. Both of their cruises last about four hours, and their prices are identical. Adult tickets cost $36, senior tickets $28, and children’s tickets $23, but passengers under four sail for free. The only difference between the prices is that Atlantic Whale Watch defines a child (or actually a “junior”) as someone from 4 to 16, whereas Granite State defines a child as anyone from 4 to 17. So, again, the prices are basically identical, and while the cruises themselves will of course not be exactly the same, it is safe to assume you are in for a comparable experience no matter who you book with. There are only so many ways to vary a cruise that leaves from the same harbor and sails the same waters looking for the same types of whales.
If you are in or near Rye Harbor State Park looking for something to do, a whale watching cruise is a pretty great option. For more general information, check out our article on whale watching in New Hampshire.